Comments and thoughts  after the fact

Comments and thoughts after the fact

20 December 2018 Off By Facto Edizioni

/ by Aldo Avancini /

On the night between 7 and 8 December, there was a stampede in a nightclub near Ancona that caused 6 victims (5 teenagers between 14 and 16 and a 39-year-old mother). In the club crowded with young people, someone sprayed pepper spray, causing panic in the crowd, who rushed to the emergency exits. Just outside of one of these, the hedge-balustrade of a bridge joining the parking lot gave way under the pressure of the mass of people. Many of the young people fell into the ditch below, ending up being crushed by the others. Aldo Avancini reflects on this tragedy.

Ing. Aldo Avancini / Proposta Srl

When writing under the wave of emotions that arises in the face of disasters such as the one at the nightclub near Ancona, it is not always easy to make a clear judgement, nor give reasoned explanations for the causes, and above all the solutions. I also think that it is very difficult to draw some conclusions with reference not to facts, but solely to opinions that are often based on a “personal” view of the truth, as the risk is that some of the proposed solutions are bizarre, to say the least. Reading about an Italian who spent several days in prison after talcum powder in his suitcase was mistaken for drugs, I could not help but think about how in the movies, simply punching some powder, the actor says “pure cocaine!”… so I wondered: wouldn’t it have been better for actors to have been checking for drugs?!

Sorry to digress, I’ll now resume the serious discussion demanded by last weekend’s tragedy. Yesterday I heard on the radio a series of comments, with brief statements on the matter. While I absolutely do not want to go into the merits of existing situations – I have neither the qualifications nor the eminence to do so, but above all my tasks are others – I cannot help but make some reflections and ask questions that I want to share here.

One first group of commentators maintained the position of “more laws are needed”! NO dear reader, there are too many rules, to the point that in a previous article I underlined how Engineers (please observe the capital ‘E’) are in danger of becoming technical notaries public of rules and regulations. It is precisely due to their number and complexity that the possibility of breaking them arises! You cannot stop water with a wall of sponges, however hard they are squeezed. 

Rules that are few in number yet very clear and above all with clear penalties applied promptly are the best deterrent for those who want to break them. Recently I read a European Union document, comprising 7 pages, where the first 3 pages described the definitions of the terms used, the next 3 began with the classic “whereas…” and only one page reported the actual text of the subject! Considering then that for each “whereas…” there is something based on the same concept, it is clear how “more laws are needed” cannot be identified as a feasible solution to the problem.

A second group of commentators emphasised the absence of effective controls, and this point is certainly worth reflecting on. Formally, controls exist and are entrusted to established and qualified professionals, bodies or companies. But when it comes down to the actual inspections, annoying contradictions arise; here I simply quote an example relating to their timing (often a few days before opening, in some cases insufficient to allow decisive actions to be adopted when considered necessary for the purposes of safety of guests and the property), without going into the merits of the professionalism of those who carry them out.

If authorisation of the Provincial Commission is required, how long does this actually spend on site to carry out the checks? In an event with say 40 attractions, spending 4/6 hours, taking into account coffee breaks (which no-one can be denied), moving around the site and the inevitable greetings from the President, how long remains? A few minutes for each attraction. Is this enough time to check their conditions and safety? And all of this taking for granted the “demonstrable professional experience and expertise in the typical problems of the sector” of the Commission.

As for the checks, let me ask: how many times have you seen police doing breathalyser checks on the roads out of local festivals? How many times has the due police presence been underlined to guarantee security!? And what about verification of the due administrative and tax documentation? But if we compare the importance of safety and security in general to that of receipts, cash and the like (all of which are necessary and appreciable – dishonesty harms the honest!) would it not be normal to expect that the physical well-being of guests is superior or at least equal in value?

One last word on overcrowding. Forgive me for this parallel, but the car parks in my city have a defined number of parking spaces available. Several times on entering, the ticket machine says “Car park full” and you have to wait for a car to come out before entering. This doesn’t seem in my opinion to be a solution that requires special investments or professionalism.

Taken from Games&Parks Industry December 2018, page 92

Ing. Aldo Avancini /  Proposta Srl /